Islam has strongly emphasized the concept of decency and modesty in the interaction between members of the opposite gender.
In Chapter 24 known as an-Nur (the Light), in verse 30, Allah commands Prophet Muhammad as follows:
قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ يَغُضُّوْا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَ يَحْفَظُوْا فُرُوْجَهُمْ, ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ.
“Say to the believing men that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste). This is better for them.”
This is a command to Muslim men that they should not lustfully look at women (other than their own wives); and in order to prevent any possibility of temptation, they are required to cast their glances downwards. This is known as “hijab of the eyes”.
Then in the next verse, Allah commands the Prophet to address the women:
قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَ يَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوْجَهُنَّ...
“Say to the believing women that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste)…”
This is a similar command as given to the men in the previous verse regarding “hijab of the eyes”.
After “hijab of the eyes” came the order describing the dress code for women:
وَ لاَ يُبْدِيْنَ زِيْنَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَ لْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلىَ جُيُوْبِهِنَّ...
“...and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they should place their khumur over their chest...”
So the word khumur, by definition, means a piece of cloth that covers the head.
According to the commentators of the Qur’an, the women of Madina in the pre-Islamic era used to put their khumur over the head with the two ends tucked behind and tied at the back of the neck, in the process exposing their ears and neck. By saying that, “place the khumur over the chest,” Almighty Allah ordered the women to let the two ends of their headgear extend onto their bosoms so that they conceal their ears, the neck, and the part of their chest.
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